Die Welt, Monday, November 13th, 1989, p. 4


Coffee unites Eastern and Western police

A lot of extraordinary things are going on in Berlin these days. Only a few days ago, it would have been unthinkable; over decades, it was impossible - but yet late on Saturday afternoon, it happened at the "Checkpoint Charlie" (the border crossing which was until recently reserved for foreigners) on Friedrichstrasse: Police president Georg Scherz from West Berlin and People's Army Colonel Günter Leo from the East met each other in person. Leo is deputy commander with the East Berlin "Central Border Command" which is responsible for the downtown area.

East Berlin had asked for the meeting. Not only because of what happened at Brandenburg Gate, but also to build some direct contacts between the two police forces for all questions regarding the high volume of visitors crossing the border. Scherz and Leo agreed to exchange information and to conduct joint operations in "exceptional circumstances". That same night, a direct telephone and telex line were installed to link the police headquarters of both parts of Berlin.

Negotiations to install two police officers of each police force in the others' headquarters are in progress.

At "grassroots level", the border crossings, joint operations are already a proven procedure since Friday night. Pictures of (Eastern) army soldiers and (Western) police officers regulating the visitor flow side by side are commonplace.

When the police officers in the East get their coffee, they share with the Westerners, who in turn do not hesitate to share the sparkling wine brought to the border by some. "We have the common goal to master this extraordinary situation", says a border police officer from the East.

  Frederik Ramm, 2001-04-27